Recently, comedian John Oliver– formerly with The Daily Show and now with his own satirical “news” show– aired a 13-minute explanation of net neutrality, why we should all care, and, most importantly, what we can do about it (besides blog, whine, protest, etc.)
According to Oliver, the concept of net neutrality is too boring and complicated for mainstream news outlets to worry their pretty little heads about it, so many Americans are uninformed. In its current state, the Internet is one, big, messy democracy of loosely organized information– all traveling at the same speed to and from your computer. When you do a Google search, “news” (AKA spin) from multi-billion-dollar corporate giants can appear next to lowly blog posts dissing the same corporate giants. This is net neutrality. Thanks to social media and free blogging platforms, anyone with basic computer skills and time on their hands can be heard.
Telecom giants like Comcast and Verizon want to de-democratize the Internet by instituting two levels of access– the high-speed lane for corporate people with deep pockets and the slow lane for the rest of us. Verizon sued the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the net neutrality rules and won in January 2014.
Interestingly enough, multinational corporations like Google and Facebook (who would have to pay big bucks for that fast lane) are teaming up with everyday folks (who really want the Internet to be open to everyone equally and regulated like a utility) to fight for net neutrality. (Oliver says it’s like Lex Luthor teaming up with Superman.)
This is where you and the Internet trolls come in. FCC has opened up a comment period. (Commenting instructions and Oliver’s video, after the jump.)
The Oliver video tells viewers to go here to send a comment to the FCC. The website was a bit hinky when I tried it. There is a pull down box for taking action and sending a comment; there is also a tab for sending email. The comment function didn’t work when I tried it– pretty bad for an agency that is supposed to oversee the Internet!
UPDATE #1: The FCC has created a special email address for comments about net neutrality. You can write directly to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Hat tip to my fans who pointed this out.)
UPDATE #2: Apparently, the reason that the FCC website didn’t work properly because the FCC was flooded with comments after John Oliver’s call to action. 🙂 According to the story here, the FCC is not totally convinced that their system crash on Monday was due to Oliver’s call to action on Sunday. The FCC Tweeted this on Monday: “We’ve been experiencing technical difficulties with our comment system due to heavy traffic.” Anyway, as noted above, you can now send them an email about this. Time to flood their inbox. As Oliver said in his video, having the cable companies and a 30-year telecom lobbyist (FCC Chair Wheeler) rule the Internet is like hiring a dingo to baby sit your infant.
Anyway, listen to Oliver’s video, read the related background articles on the court case and ramifications of letting Verizon and Comcast control the Internet and use it to line their pockets.
Think about all of the news that you read here on Blog for Arizona (or other non-corporate websites) that never appears in the mainstream media. Keeping the Internet open to everyone equally is crucial.
Real news is hard enough to find now; with a money-based system of information access you will be fed what they want you to know.
And, you know what, sometimes bloggers are the only people with the freedom and guts to tell you the truth. Our tiny voices– and yours– are important in a free society.
Related background articles: